by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg
At the end of commedia dell’arte’s 200 year reign in Italy, there came a man name Carlo Goldoni. Born in 1707, Goldoni had a love of theatre from his childhood. However, though Goldoni had made his theatrical start writing typical commedia scenarios, with little or no alteration from the accepted traditions, he was concerned that commedia did not fully represent the Italian way of life and manners. So he decided to make a change.
Building off of the works of the Greeks as well as more contemporary playwrights such as Moliere, Goldoni set out to reform the Italian theatre. Believeing that reform happened through providing strong examples instead of simply ideas, Goldoni started to create his own plays. Goldoni became famous for his hybrid style which combined the beloved nature of commedia dell’arte with the style and wit of Moliere. Some of his big changes included replacing the improvisational nature with written scripts, removing the masks so that the actors faces could be seen and reinventing the nature of the lazzi. Legend has it that every time he finished a play he said, “Good. But not yet Moliere.”
The Servant of Two Masters is Goldoni’s most beloved script. It has been translated into many languages and has been adapted for theatres, film and televisions around the world.